Because I was busy with rehearsals for Apocalypse Soon and then distracted by near-death thanks to a Seattle snowstorm, I was not able to see much theatre in January. I missed out on Coriolanus which I really wanted to see, as well as several others. Here are very short responses to the things I attended.
I was lucky enough to attend three of the four performances of 14/48. 14/48 is always… interesting. The emcee usually makes a joke about how these are all actually just dress rehearsals, and there’s a lot of truth in that. There are generally about three plays of the run you could see being developed more fully into complete productions, but sometimes, more often than I’d like, 14/48 devolves into the easiest sex jokes imaginable. That does not mean that the experience itself isn’t amazing, or that the work is lesser, just that I wish when exhaustion hits the playwright more ideas would come to mind than drawn out sex metaphors. In addition, the male dominated nature of it continues to confound. On one weekend they apparently had mostly female actors and only one (maybe two?) female playwrights. For a cast that is mostly female, it was astounding how many male-centric themes there were. But I remain hopeful about what 14/48 means for the nature of Seattle theatre focusing on new works and trying different things. We learn, after all, from our failures more than our successes. Not to say 14/48 was a failure; it wasn’t. Just that I look forward to the artists they pick becoming more diverse in experiences and voices. 14/48 is something never to be missed and happens twice a year for a total of 8 unique performances and 56 new plays each year. That number alone is incredible.
This new play written by Kristina Sutherland and directed by Alexis Holzer was absolutely fantastic. Depicting the story of a female soldier returning home to Thebes, IL where her mother is in the midst of a campaign for mayor. The play deals with the collapse and rebuild of a family. I’ll admit that sister dramas, in particular, are a soft-spot for me, but with the use of a chorus and some really intense flashbacks (that could also be hallucinations?), Thebes became a lot more than a simple family drama. More than that, Thebes never took the easy road, opting instead to tread new ground rather than rehash stories that have already been told. And, it did all that with humor as well as drama and featured a mostly female cast. That does not happen often enough. Though it was not a perfect show, (I think the last fight between the women still needs some work so everyone doesn’t just speak their peace down the line) Thebes did everything that I ask theatre to do: it didn’t reflect my life back at me, it refracted into something new.
I couldn’t be happier that ACT Theatre is starting this project. Construction Zone aims to work with established playwrights on developing new work and opens the discussion up to Seattle audiences. I’m in dramaturg heaven. American Wee-Pie put a different spin on the economic crisis and search for self by adding a lot of comedy and cupcakes. What’s not to love? What was fantastic about Construction Zone is that similarly to New Century’s Pipeline, the performance ends with a discussion about the work in progress. They were luckily able to bring the playwright to the event and are still looking for more funding so they can always fly the playwright in. So, if you like new work and happen to have an extra $5, send it their way.
February’s list is forthcoming!